10-year-old Nella Anderson was found unconscious in her Pennsylvania bedroom in December. The girl died after five days in intensive care. According to her mother, Twainna, her daughter took part in the “blackout challenge”. Participants try to hold their breath for as long as possible.
Nilah saw a video about the challenge on TikTok’s For You page, family lawyers say, accusing the company of negligence. “The TikTok algorithm determined that a life-threatening blackout challenge was most likely to interest 10-year-old Nella Anderson, and she died as a result.”
“I want to hold this company accountable,” Twina told US media. “It’s time to end these serious challenges so that other families don’t have to go through the suffering that we now have to go through every day.”
TikTok has not yet commented on the lawsuit. The company said in an earlier response that it expressed its “heartfelt condolences” to the family. But TikTok also noted that the obfuscation challenge already existed before the video app. “We remain committed to user security and immediately remove these types of videos as soon as they are found,” the company said.
Many children died
TikTok previously claimed that the blackout challenge was “never a TikTok trend.” In April of last year, a 12-year-old boy died in Colorado after his family also claimed he participated in the blackout challenge.
In Italy, a 10-year-old girl died last year after she was likely challenged via TikTok to do the blackout challenge. Italy then banned the app in the country for users whose age has not been verified.
Last fall, TikTok said it could automatically detect dangerous challenges earlier. “We have new technology that can alert us more quickly to a sudden increase in videos that violate our rules. This also allows us to better address potentially dangerous behavior,” an app manager said at the time.
TikTok users will also see notifications and warnings when they look for potentially dangerous challenges.
An organization representing tens of thousands of concerned parents has called on EU regulators to step in on TikTok, as it won’t do enough to ensure the safety of mostly young users.
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